Friday, January 30, 2015

Science Facts: Vincristine and Low Yield

Vincristine is an anti-cancer drug isolated from the Madagascar periwinkle, Catharanthus roseus. Unfortunately, it takes 15 tons of dried periwinkle leaves to produce 30 grams of vincristine. This is a relatively common problem when it comes to isolating medical chemicals from plants. One solution to this problem is semi-synthesis-- once the structure of a natural chemical is known, it can often be synthetically recreated from similar, more available, compounds.

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